Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Odd defection news

On November 11th, Phil Hardy, Leader of the Green Party Group on Norfolk County Council said: "Councillor Paul Rice's defection from the Lib Dems to the Tories only a few months ago was the first one in Norfolk since the 1970s. Now David Callaby has defected so soon after, this is a clear indication of how close the Liberal Democrats are with the Tories, not just with the coalition Government but here in Norfolk too. People in Lakenham need to be aware of this when they decide how to vote in the by-election on 24th November."

Just a month later Councillor Phil Hardy defects to the Conservative Party!

This appears to be a very strange move indeed. I'm sure that there is more to this story than meets the eye, not least because of the ongoing anger relating to the proposed incinerator for Kings Lynn.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Government Minister Praises Ecumenical Criminal Justice Forum

Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, Lord (Tom) McNally has praised the enormously important role of the Norfolk Ecumenical Criminal Justice Forum.

Speaking to the Forum at a meeting hosted by the Bishop of Norwich on July 26, Lord McNally said: “A group like yours has an enormously important role; by coming together to share experiences from your “day jobs”; by contributing to thoughtful and informed debate; and by trying to discern the best ways of helping those in your care.”

Addressing the forum, which brings together a wide range group of people engaged in the criminal justice system from judges and magistrates to ex-offenders and volunatry sector partners, Lord McNally, said: “I welcome the fact that the Ecumenical Criminal Justice Forum provides time and space for a range of practitioners in the criminal justice system to meet to exchange views, and discuss imaginative solutions to some of the problems local people experience on a day to day basis. These are times of great challenge and change for all of us..a measure of ourselves as a just and compassionate society is how we treat and aim to rehabilitate those who break the law."

Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords, Lord McNally, went on to address the Government’s current programme of reforms of sentencing and legal aid, exploring issues relating to penal reform, prisoner reparation, youth justice, reforms of the legal aid system and restorative justice.

Having spent the afternoon looking at how police, probation and other agencies in Norfolk have led the way in its' adoption of restorative approaches relating to criminal justice, anti-social behaviour and community mediation, Lord McNally commented that "Restorative justice has an important part to play, but only so long as it is used appropriately, and that interventions are of sufficiently high quality and there are sufficient safeguards in place for victims. Our aim is to introduce a framework for best practice at all stages in the criminal justice system. Restorative justice is not a soft option… Many offenders find the process demanding and tough. We require offenders to take an active role in repairing harm, acknowledging the impact of what they’ve done and facing up to the consequences.Only those working within local communities understand the extent to which different types of crime are prevalent, and local justice requires flexibility in the kinds of disposals that are available.

Paying tribute to the dedication and vision of those involved in the criminal justice process, Lord McNally thanked those present for their contribution and highlighted the role played by prison chaplaincy teams making a real difference to the lives of prisoners, staff and the wider community by encouraging personal change and rehabilitation.

Echoing Martin Luther King's vision of a“the beloved community” – an activism that moves beyond securing individual rights to a broader understanding of building a just and compassionate society for all people,” Lord McNally concluded his address by calling for more dialogue and more partnership working and an extension of the work and vision of this ecumenical criminal justice forum. "A just society is an inclusive one… It’s about achieving a cultural shift in people’s attitudes and thinking. That applies just as much to the offender as to the victim; to the criminal justice professionals as much as to the media commentators; and to faith groups and churches as much as to those of no faith.”

Forum convenor, Rev Simon Wilson commented:
"The criminal justice forum has been one of the most encouraging and exciting projects that I have ever had the privilege of being involved in. It brings together a wide range of people working hard to make our communities cohesive, safe and inclusive places and we are grateful for Lord McNally's support and encouragement."

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

2011 chaplaincy conference

Report of Inter-disciplinary multi-faith chaplaincy conference May 2011
The annual Inter-disciplinary multi-faith chaplaincy conference organised by Good Work, in partnership with Norfolk and Waveney Churches Together, took place recently at Trinity United Reform church in Norwich. Well attended, as always, the event brought together chaplains from a variety of contexts-including police, hospital, prison, local authority or education settings-from a diversity of faith communities including those from Christians, Muslims, Jewish and Sikh traditions. The event also brought together a variety of different models of chaplaincy-some full-time, others part-time or sessional; some paid others voluntary. The resulting gathering showed how increasingly important chaplaincy is as a dimension of the mission and ministry of our faith communities in a changing contemporary and cosmopolitan culture.

After a generous welcome from the Bishop of Norwich, showing the high regard and gratitude that church leadership has for the commitment and contribution that chaplains make to the institutions in which they serve and the wider community. Marie-Charlotte Remy Macaud from the Faith Matters project talked about recent work exploring the role of the Muslim Chaplain in public sector chaplaincy and in particular the understanding of community leadership through chaplaincy. Professor Paul Ballard, a well known academic theologian, explored the inner and outer formation of the modern chaplain and their place in the wider church.

The afternoon sessions were more practical- Jenny Kartupelis from the East of England Faiths Council examined the wider context in which chaplains operate: the pastoral and practical factors arising from public sector cuts and restructuring and their prominent place in any “big society”. David Capey from the East of England Faiths Agency outlined some of the resources available to chaplaincy teams to help them explore multi-faith aspects of their work, including the pastoral needs of the diversity of faith communities present in Norfolk.

The chaplains also spent time reflecting on how to evaluate chaplaincy, where chaplains find their own needs met, what support is available and how chaplains can work together. Chaplains often feel isolated, so this mutual encouragement and dialogue is important. Chaplaincy is at the cutting-edge of the presence and engagement of faith communities in the uncertain, apparently secular, post-modern world in which we find ourselves. We have much to celebrate and be proud of.

Rev Simon Wilson, June 2011
Social and Community Concerns Co-ordinator, Diocese of Norwich
County Ecumenical Officer, Norfolk and Waveney Churches Together

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Benefice Magazine Editorial May 2011


Enclosed in this magazine is a little red envelope-that might not seem very exciting, but there is something very special about this little red envelope-it is an invitation to get involved in something alongside millions of others; it is an opportunity to give, pray or take action; it is a calling to look beyond ourselves make a difference and for some of the world’s poorest communities, this little red envelope represents hope. It is, of course, a Christian Aid envelope.

Every year, people of this benefice give generously –some financially, others prayerfully and now is the opportunity to do so again-to make a difference here in this country and overseas.

For so many of the world’s people, life is an unending struggle-a struggle against poverty, disease and famine, against natural disaster, war and exploitation. In the face of such need and desperation, it is hard not to feel overwhelmed and helpless, but we can make a difference. Christian Aid works with partner organisations already involved across the world in helping the poorest of the poorest not only survive hardship today but to dare to hope for a better tomorrow.

We can be part of the bigger picture-of transformation where it seems impossible-imagining how the world would look if we allowed the kingdom of God to be a reality, if we truly believed in abundant life for all and don’t put limits on love and justice-if we act as neighbours should. We can be the change that matters.

Please return your envelope to Foulsham Rectory or to church-wardens.
For more information about Christian Aid Week, please visit www.christianaidweek.org.uk

Thank you for your generosity .
Rev Simon Wilson

Friday, April 08, 2011

Call for Churches to Engage with AV referendum

You do not need to be a psephological geek like me to realise that a referendum is taking place on May 5th concerning the adoption of the Alternative Vote system for elections to the House of Commons. It asks a crucial question about how our democratic political system operates and how we interact with it, because how we vote will affect the sort of parliament and government we get out of it.

It is important that churches are aware that the referendum is happening and are equipted to help people think through the issues involved. For some Christians, this may not be an issue that they have given much thought to, however others may hold very strong views and others still would prefer to be answering a different question and considering different systems. Disagreement though should not prevent us bringing our beliefs into the heart of the political process.

Various neutral and informative resources are available to stimulate reflection and discussion including the following which I commend to you:

Faithworks Direct Democracy campaign:

Evangelical Alliance:


In addition to these, the offical campaign sites are at:



There is planned to be a series of hustings meetings organised by church groups across the region which I will advertise when confirmed. Please do let me know of anything happening in your own locality.